Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Havey Canyon

Havey Canyon
Wildcat Creek-Belgum-Nimitz-Havey Canyon-Wildcat Creek (6.3 (?) miles)

Havey Canyon. Yet another undiscovered jewel of Richmond's Wildcat Canyon. This is a gorgeous, challenging (albeit not super long) run with sweeping vistas, varying landscape, steep uphill and some great downhill--all within 5 minutes of the Solano Ave. exit off of 80 East. Is it Richmond's reputation? I have no idea, but I do think the dramatic views rival anything I have seen from other East Bay parks. (Ok, Marin might have something over Wildcat Canyon, but my house was much cheaper than it would have been in Ross...)

Anyway, I digress. The trail at Alvarado Park climbs from the parking lot and then continues to ascend up Belgum trail until reaching the San Pablo Ridge trail, as seen in the first photo. Belgum trail is named for the Belgum Sanitorium, now a collection of very interesting ruins that I promise to cover in another post--today I was too focused on getting up the hill to take pictures.

For the next two miles, the trail runs along San Pablo Ridge. It is almost always windy on this trail, making it an ideal trail for summer when Briones gets too hot. (As you can see here, Richmond gets the wind from the Bay, making summer barbecues annoyingly cold by 7:30 p.m.) This trail is (in my opinion) one of the most overlooked trails in the East Bay. From this
 trail, it is possible to see the Golden Gate, the Bay Bridge, Mt. Diablo and sometimes even the Benicia Bridge--all while standing in the same spot. It is also rare to see other people on this trail. Even on a Saturday afternoon, I might see two other groups of people. 

The Belgum trail ends at the paved Nimitz Way, which one could follow all the way to Tilden's Inspiration Point, but the Havey Canyon trail heads right, down into (funnily enough...) Havey Canyon. I love this section of the trail. Havey Canyon is sheltered, with abundant greenery framing the trail. (At this time of year, it has an abundance of poison oak as well-- be forewarned.) This 1.5 mile trail is a wonderfully fast downhill section as well--not too technical and steep enough that you can get up some great speed. And yes, I continued to practice my new downhill technique... 

At the end of Havey Canyon, the trail meets up with Wildcat Creek trail, which heads back to the parking lot. This is a great trail for dogs as well, with the understanding that there are cows on the loose at times... I have come close to having a bovine encounter or two. If you're not trying to run long but want to get your heart rate up, this trail is a wonderful option. Bring the puppies and get thee to Wildcat Canyon!

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